Naturopathic medicine is a science-based medical discipline that evaluates health concerns by considering all facets of a patient’s health and lifestyle. It is a branch of medicine that blends scientific, evidence-based medicine with select alternative, traditional therapies. Naturopathic doctors (ND) undergo rigorous education and complete national board and licensing exams providing them the necessary training to assess and create appropriate and comprehensive treatment plans for patients. Naturopathic doctors are trained to diagnose and address both acute and chronic disease and are often a last resort for individuals who have exhausted conventional resources.
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Crossover in both education and practice does exist between medical and naturopathic doctors, but the naturopathic perspective and foundational philosophy distinguishes the two streams.The focus on investigating and treating the underlying cause combined with the wealth of treatment options gives naturopathic physicians a broad base from which to support patients on their health journeys. Because naturopathic doctors take a functional view of health, they have the ability to help individuals without a prior diagnosis or acute symptoms. The skillset of an ND is perfectly suited to both preventing progression and restoring balance to prevent the onset of disease. Naturopathic doctors often support patients who struggle with disorders that fail to fall within a specific diagnosis – patients who experience symptoms without definitive laboratory or imaging findings. The scope of practice allows an ND to address these concerns with natural, less intense treatments before resorting to pharmaceuticals or surgical interventions.
Fundamental to naturopathic medicine is the therapeutic order. This guides clinical decision making providing a structure for evaluation and treatment depending on the severity of a health concern. For example, not all patients need invasive treatments. Some may only require dietary support or weekly acupuncture to rebalance their body. Other patients may require more intense protocols such as injection, IV therapies or even prescribed pharmaceuticals.
Vital to the practice of naturopathic medicine is the intention of each treatment. For example, many herbal medicines can be used both as general tonics or as targeted treatments for specific diseases.
Comprehensive education and scope of practice provides naturopathic physicians with a variety of treatment tools. These include: clinical nutrition, counselling, acupuncture, botanical medicine, injection and intravenous therapies, bio-identical hormone treatments, and even prescription pharmaceuticals. Naturopathic doctors are trained to assess patients and treat the individual – careful assessment facilitates individualized treatment plans, using the variety of modalities, that best suit patient needs.